New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is on the short list to replace Janet Napolitano now that she is resigning as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. His name is being widely discussed and has the support of one of Obama’s closest Senate allies.

As soon as Napolitano resignation was announced Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) began actively pushing for Kelly as her replacement. Schumer even sent out a press release saying, “there is no doubt Ray Kelly would be a great DHS Secretary, and I have urged the White House to very seriously consider his candidacy.”

Under Kelly’s guidance the NYPD has dramatically stepped up its highly controversial stop-and-frisk policy. The policy effectively treats Blacks and Hispanics in certain parts of the city  as potential suspects subject to random, unprovoked, and highly invasive public searches. In 2012 alone over half a million stops were made. Analysis by the NYCLU found that 87 percent of people stopped were black or Latino with just 10 percent being white. Of those stopped 90 percent were found to have done nothing wrong. Most of the arrests actually made were for marijuana offenses.

Not only does this policy raise serious concerns about racism and the violation of the 4th amendment, but it has led to several reports of individuals being effectively framed with trumped up marijuana charges. In New York possession of small amounts of marijuana is decriminalized unless the marijuana is in “public view.” Many claim that during the process of being frisked officers will either trick or force people to put their concealed marijuana in “public view,” so they can be unfairly charged with the more serious crime. The entire policy is currently facing a federal lawsuit.

Stop-and-frisk is a legal, moral and racial travesty. If President Obama was to appoint Kelly to such an important cabinet position that would potentially be interrupted as endorsement of this policy. Instead of being punished for promoting what should be an unconstitutional policy, it would appear Obama is rewarding Kelly for dramatically scaling up the practice.

This could easily make other municipalities feel more comfortable to adopt similar tactics. Kelly in the cabinet would be a strong signal that Obama’s Department of Justice is unlikely to subject other stop-and-frisk like programs to the heavy scrutiny they deserves. The Obama administration is not going to want to embarrass its newest addition to the cabinet.

Photo released under Public Domain